Why Does The Same Size Tide Bottle Say That It Washes 20% More Loads?

Reader Kelly found herself in a common consumer dilemma: She was confused about the marketing language on some detergent labels. Why did some bottles of Tide that were the exact same size as others on the shelf proclaim that they will wash “20% more loads”?

When Kelly looked at the shelf to pick up a new bottle of Tide Sport, here’s what she saw. While a reasonable person could assume that the detergent is now more concentrated, there were a lot of numbers and a reference to a separate fragrance that just confused her.

Here’s a close-up of what that cap says.

The larger bottles had the same “more loads” labeling, too.

The extra label on the cap is similar, but with the numbers adjusted for the larger bottle size.

Kelly sent these pictures to Consumerist, describing the identical bottle sizes and the extra labels on the cap.

“In very small print, the cap label explains what they mean, but, honestly, I can’t figure out what they’re talking about,” she writes. “What do various sizes of ‘Spring Renewal’ have to do with Tide Sport?”

What was the connection? Maybe these bottles had the wrong label on their caps. We took Kelly’s photos and confused email and sent them over to the laundry-loving people at Procter & Gamble, maker of Tide.

The “20% more loads” thing, it turns out, is exactly what you might guess if you’ve been buying detergent for a while. A spokesperson from the company’s fabric care division told Consumerist that the product was reformulated, and the dosing per load changed. The label on the cap (P&G calls it a “capwrap,” which is our new favorite word) is meant to call your attention to that before you dump the same old amount of detergent in the washer.

She laid out what the numbers on the cap mean in plain English:

• 16 loads vs. 13 loads (25 ounce bottle)

• 24 loads vs. 19 loads (37 ounce bottle)

• 44 loads vs. 36 loads (69 ounce bottle)

• 59 loads vs. 48 loads (92 ounce bottle)

• 74 loads vs. 60 loads (115 ounce bottle)

Okay, but what’s with those numbers and the Spring Renewal thing? Kelly’s favorite Tide Sport is part of a special line that P&G calls the “Tide + Collection.” The products have some extra features, like Febreze to fight gym clothes stank, additives for cold-water washing to save money, or fabric softener added to the formula.

Some of these products were recently rebranded. Tide Sport is now Tide Plus Febreze Odor Defense, and some other products changed formulas. The odor-fighting products with Febreze were what the Spring Renewal referred to on the capwrap, since that was the only scent available before.

The goal is to compare the rebranded products to a similar-strength product that had been on the shelf before and that customers might have used, but they just ended up confusing some shoppers more.